Front Matter Why This Story was Written The Leaking Speedwell Searching for a Home After the Storm Wash Day Finding the Corn Attacked by the Savages Building Houses Miles Standish The Sick People The New Home Master White and the Wolf Inside of the House A Chimney Without Bricks Building the Fire Master Bradford's Chimney Scarcity of Food A Timely Gift The First Savage Visitor Squanto's Story Living in the Wilderness The Friendly Indians Grinding the Corn A Visit From Massasoit Massasoit's Promise Massasoit's Visit Returned The Big House Burned The Mayflower Leaves Port Setting the Table What and How we Eat Table Rules A Pilgrim Goes Abroad Making a Dugout Governor Carver's Death Bradford Chosen Governor Farming in Plymouth Cooking Indian Corn The Wedding Making Maple Syrup Decorating the House Trapping Wolves and Pigeons Elder Brewster The Visit to Massasoit Keeping the Sabbath Holy Making Clapboards Cooking Pumpkins A New Oven Making Spoons and Dishes The Fort and Meeting-House The Harvest Festival How to Play Stoolball On Christmas Day When the Fortune Arrived Possibility of Another Famine On Short Allowance A Threatening Message Pine Knots and Candles Tallow From Bushes Wicks for the Candle Dipping the Candles When James Runs Away Evil-Minded Indians Long Hours of Preaching John Alden's Tubs English Visitors Visiting the Neighbors Why More Fish are not Taken How Wampum is Made Ministering to Massasoit The Plot Thwarted The Captain's Indian Ballots of Corn Arrival of the Ann Little James Comes to Port The New Meeting-House The Church Service The Tithingmen Master Winslow Brings Cows A Real Oven Butter and Cheese Settlement at Wessagussett The Village at Merrymount The First School Too Much Smoke Schools Comforts How Children Were Punished New Villages Making Ready for a Journey Clothing for Salem Food for the Journey Before Sailing for Salem Beginning the Journey The Arrival at Salem Sight-Seeking in Salem Back to Plymouth

Mary of Plymouth - James Otis

Building Houses

It was agreed to build first one large house of logs, where we could all live until each man had chosen a place for himself, and both Sarah and I were on shore, standing almost knee-deep in the snow on that twenty-fifth of December, as we watched the men hew down trees, trim off the branches, and dig in the frozen ground to set up the first dwelling in this strange land.

The first thing done was to build a high platform, where the cannon that had been brought from England could be placed, so that the savages might be beaten off if they came to do us harm, and then the big house was begun.

[Illustration] from Mary of Plymouth by James Otis

Of course we women and children were forced to go back on board the vessel while the work was being done, and very slowly was it carried on, because of the cold's being so great, and the storms so many, that our people could not work out of doors long at a time.

Our village was begun in the midst of the forest not very far from the seashore, where had been huts built by the savages; and because of the Indians having chosen that place in which to live, our people believed it would be well for them to make there the town which was to be called Plymouth, since it was from Plymouth in England that we had started on the voyage which ended in this wild place.

When mother asked father why the men did not search longer, instead of fixing upon a spot to which the savages might come back at any moment, he told her that much time must be spent in building houses, and not an hour should be wasted. They ought to get on shore as soon as possible in order to begin hunting, for the food we had on the Mayflower  was by this time so poor that neither Sarah nor I could swallow the smallest mouthful with any pleasure.

Sarah and I were eager to be living on dry land once more, where we could move about as we pleased; for, large though the Mayflower  had seemed to us when we first went on board, there was little room for all our company, and very many were grown so sick that they could not get out on deck even when the sun shone warm and bright.

There were nineteen plots for houses laid out in all, because of the company's being divided into nineteen families. The plots were on two sides of a way running along by a little brook, where, so I heard my father say, one could get sweet fresh water to drink. It was decided that each man should build his own house.

The plot of land where father was to build our house was quite near the bay, but yet so far in among the trees as to be shaded from the sun in the summer, while Master Carver, who was chosen to be our governor, was to build his only a short distance away.